All Things Pregnancy


Labour and giving birth can be an exciting and daunting experience for any expectant parent! It’s a good idea to have a plan in place to ensure you feel comfortable and prepared for the big day ahead of time. Here, we'll take you through everything you need to know about labour, including making a birth plan, packing your hospital bag, and symptoms of labour to look out for.

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Your Guide to Labour and Delivery...

A birth plan is a written document outlining your preferences for your labour, delivery, and postpartum care. It can also include medication and other options you’d like to avoid during your birth.

You don’t need a birth plan, and many women prefer the idea of going into their birth with an open mind and leaving it up to the doctors to guide what happens. Still, a birth plan can be an excellent way to prepare mentally for your labour, consider all of the possibilities, and decide what you think your preferences are.

Your birth plan should involve important things such as where you’d like to give birth, who you want in the room, what types of pain relief you’d like, and if you’d like to use any special facilities or relaxation practices, such as hypnobirthing.

It’s important to discuss your plan with your midwife to ensure your wishes can be accommodated and discuss other possibilities. For more information on what to include in your birth plan, see our handy guide on how to write a birth plan.

As well as deciding on your preferences for where to give birth and who should be there with you, it’s important to consider key aspects of labour, such as whether an epidural is right for you.

Before deciding your preferences on the medical aspects of the birth, it’s important to understand what each means.

An epidural is a form of pain relief that involves an injection of medication into the lower part of your spine. This medication numbs the nerves that carry pain signals from your uterus and birth canal to your brain, allowing you to feel less discomfort during labour. An epidural can help you manage pain during labour and delivery, making the experience less stressful and more enjoyable. However, one concern is that epidurals can slow down labour. This is because the medication can relax your pelvic muscles, making it more difficult for your baby to move down the birth canal. If your delivery progresses slowly, an epidural may not be the best choice.

Along with considering pain relief options, it's also important to consider the different birthing positions you may want to try during labour. You can choose from several positions, each with its own benefits.

One popular position is an upright position, which can help gravity work in your favour and encourage your baby to move down the birth canal more easily. This can include standing, squatting, or kneeling.

It's important to talk to your midwife about which positions may be best for you, as this can depend on factors such as the position of your baby, your physical abilities, and any medical conditions you may have. They can also offer suggestions for positions to try during labour!

When preparing for labour and delivery, one of the most important tasks is packing your hospital bag. Taking the time to plan what to pack in your hospital bag will ensure that you have everything you need during your hospital stay, and you can focus on your recovery and bonding with your new baby after welcoming them into the world!

For more guidance, head here to download our handy guide on what to pack in your hospital bag!

Remember, every hospital is different, so it's important to check with your midwife beforehand to see if they have any specific recommendations for what to bring. By packing your hospital bag in advance, you can help ensure a smoother and more comfortable hospital stay for you and your family!

As your due date approaches, it's important to be aware of the symptoms of labour. This will help you recognise when it's time to head to the hospital, call your midwife, or wait it out at home for a bit.

Some common signs of labour include back pain, a sudden urge to go to the toilet, your water breaking, and increased discharge.

Still, it’s important to remember that labour and delivery can differ for every pregnancy. Some women may experience all of these symptoms, while others may only experience a few. It's also important to note that not all contractions mean that you're in active labour - you may experience Braxton Hicks contractions, which are usually painless and irregular. Head here for more information on what contractions feel like.

When you're in labour, it's important to stay as calm, relaxed and focused as possible. Here are some things you can do to help manage the pain and discomfort of labour:

  1. Practice breathing techniques: Controlled breathing can help you stay calm and focused during labour. Try taking slow, deep breaths and exhaling slowly. If you want some guidance on this, check out our guide to hypnobirthing.
  2. Change positions: Experiment with different positions to find what feels most comfortable.
  3. Stay hydrated: It's always important to stay hydrated during labour, so be sure to drink plenty of water or clear fluids.
  4. Use pain relief methods: If you've decided to use pain relief methods such as an epidural, talk to your midwife about when it's best to receive it.

It's also important to remember that the labour and delivery of your little one can be unpredictable, so try to stay flexible and open-minded. While it’s good to have a birth plan, your midwife may need to make decisions based on your health and your baby's health, so trust their expertise and guidance!

If the time comes that you elect for a caesarean, have a planned c-section, or have an emergency section for medical reasons, then one thing is for sure - you’re not alone. One in every four births occurs this way, and labour is no longer something that looks a particular way for everyone. Here are some tips to prepare:

  1. Make arrangements for after the procedure: You will need someone to take you home from the hospital and help you care for your little one in the first few weeks after a c-section, as the recovery process can be complex. See here for more information on what to expect after a c-section. Make sure you have everything lined up to help you out!
  2. Take the time to understand the procedure: A c-section involves making an incision in your abdomen and uterus to deliver your baby. See more here on what to expect during a c-section. Your healthcare provider will guide you through the procedure.
  3. Know what to expect in recovery: Try not to read up on c-section recovery horror stories, but instead look for tips and tricks on what to expect after a c-section for the best chance at a speedy recovery.